Wednesday night’s game in Calgary marked the first career NHL game for Grant Stevenson. Stevenson, a six-foot, 175-pound center who has played for the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League for the past two seasons, got his first crack at the top level and he didn’t disappoint.
Just over one minute into the third period, Patrick Marleau
ripped a shot from the point that bounced off Flames goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff, deflecting right to Stevenson who was waiting in front of the net. The tally gave the rookie his first NHL goal in his first career game.
“It was a power play goal,” said Stevenson. “There was a shot from the point and I was able to bang in the rebound because it bounced right out to me.”
Luckily for the Spruce Grove, Alberta native, members of his family and friends were able to attend his first game, making the night all the more special.
“It was really nice to be able to get that goal in my first game in front of all my family and friends,” he said. “There were about 15 tickets I had to buy for the game, but it was great having everyone there.”
Before his call up on Wednesday, Stevenson lead the Barons in goals (eight), assists (eight) and points (16) in 17 games played. Being called up has always been a dream for the young center.
“It was a great feeling,” said Stevenson. “I got off the bus in Hershey and found out. I knew I was going to have some family coming and I was hoping I’d get a shot to play and luckily I did. It was an incredible feeling.”
Stevenson carried his impressive first game into his second one Thursday in Vancouver. Although the Sharks were on the losing end, it was Stevenson that notched two helpers and kept San Jose in the game.
“It’s still pretty early for me, only my second game, but I thought we played a pretty solid game tonight,” he added. “We’re throwing more pucks at the net and getting more traffic. I think if we continue to do those things, we’re bound to get a few bounces.”
Stevenson acknowledged the differences between the AHL and the NHL, but it hasn’t seemed to be enough to hold him back, as he’s collected three points in two games.
“It’s fast and every guy is a threat every time he has the puck. It’s a fun game. You have to be aware all the time. You’ve always got someone to pass to and there’s always a play to make. So it’s kind of nice in that way and it’s a lot of fun.”
Sharks fans will be able to get their first look at Stevenson when San Jose comes home Saturday night to take on the Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion at 7:30 p.m.. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area or heard on the Sharks Radio Network and sjsharks.com.